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A Times Editorial

Editorial: Remove hurdle to children's health care

Uninsured children who are legal Florida residents shouldn't have to wait five years to see a doctor. Legislators should remove roadblocks to the state's subsidized health insurance programs and allow low-income immigrant children immediate access. Anything less punishes law-abiding families and pushes them to seek care in emergency rooms, where taxpayers will foot the bill.

More than 2.1 million children are enrolled in Florida KidCare, which includes Medicaid and subsidized insurance programs, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. Nearly 26,000 children could be helped by KidCare immediately if legislators took advantage of a change in federal law and adjusted Florida law to eliminate the five-year wait for children who were born outside the United States and are residing here legally.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, has been received favorably in committees. But its hardest challenge might be its cost. Florida would need to put up $20 million to match federal funds to cover the $69 million price tag. But that's matching money the state isn't drawing down now from Washington that could help make Florida's children healthier and take the burden off emergency care.

The Legislature should follow the lead of 26 states and the District of Columbia and eliminate the five-year waiting period for children's health insurance for legal immigrants.

Uninsured children who are legal Florida residents shouldn't have to wait five years to see a doctor. Legislators should remove roadblocks to the state's subsidized health insurance programs and allow low-income immigrant children immediate access. Anything less punishes law-abiding families and pushes them to seek care in emergency rooms, where taxpayers will foot the bill.

More than 2.1 million children are enrolled in Florida KidCare, which includes Medicaid and subsidized insurance programs, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. Nearly 26,000 children could be helped by KidCare immediately if legislators took advantage of a change in federal law and adjusted Florida law to eliminate the five-year wait for children who were born outside the United States and are residing here legally.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, has been received favorably in committees. But its hardest challenge might be its cost. Florida would need to put up $20 million to match federal funds to cover the $69 million price tag. But that's matching money the state isn't drawing down now from Washington that could help make Florida's children healthier and take the burden off emergency care.

The Legislature should follow the lead of 26 states and the District of Columbia and eliminate the five-year waiting period for children's health insurance for legal immigrants.

Editorial: Remove hurdle to children's health care 02/27/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 28, 2014 11:21am]

    

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